Thursday, January 04, 2018

The Casual Fun of Trash-Talking in Media

No one should have the right to force anyone to mute moral or social implications of what they say or write in the media, or we defeat freedom of speech, plain and simple. Criticize, yes, but to forcibly stop them from writing or speaking their mind, however misguided you may believe them to be, is crossing the line. Freedom of speech is disappearing and it is a foundational right. However, this is exactly what is happening every single day not only in the free US, but around the world as we become more globalized.

Vitriolic social pressure is stifling free speech. If someone doesn't like something, they just get louder and sometimes physical. In this environment, people not only get confrontational, they feel assaulted and want to press charges. Civil debate is lost. The worst of the worse is the comments section on almost anything on the Internet. Reading peoples juvenile and vicious attacks on what someone wrote, sang, performed, or spoke is akin to a visit to a cesspool for a meal. This is one reason I have all but stopped making a comment on YouTube. It doesn't matter if it is Mother Teresa or Stephen Hawking.  658 people dislike the video and then in the comments section call the sainted woman a tramp and the brilliant Astrophysicist, a &^%$ idiot. 

It would be very easy to exclude ourselves from these folks, but the truth is many of us are guilty on some level. Pick out a popular female pop singer, famous for bawdy performances and then deliberately say something good about her to a friend. Listen to their response. Now what would be your reaction if they did this to you? Your defense is you have higher morals or ethics and you don't associate with "people of her culture." Your intolerance is showing, but you haven't crossed the line and wished her dead, or have you? Never mind that Jesus the Christ regularly rubbed shoulders with sinners and harlots with her same perceived values.

Remember the phrase, "Them's fightin' words!"? There is such a thing as inner service rivalry in the military and it is common among "friends" who have served or are serving, but its important to understand it is amongst friends, or "them's fightin' words" comes into play. This is when a person feels the threat is actually a verbal assault and it gets physical. The person who attacks your branch of service is deliberately provoking a verbal exchange with the implication of backing up what they are asserting.

At my advanced age, this is very rare, but happened to me in the grocery store the other day. I had been to the VA for a physical and was standing in line with my Vietnam Veteran USAF black hat on, when a stranger walked up to me and said, "Air Force, huh? Only the Navy counts." I turned and looked at him in a non-confrontation stare and then turned my back on him. I did 2 tours. This fellow appeared to be maybe 40. I didn't need to justify anything to this man.

He replied to my back, "You aren't going to respond to that?" I turned slowly and said, "No." and turned away. He walked off and the man behind me asked what he said. I told him, "the guy insulted me." and let it go. I posted this on Facebook to gauge reaction and most people saw it as an insult and I acknowledged that the guy was maybe joking. The bottom line was, I think I handled it well. A few years ago, maybe I would have kicked it back at him.

People are losing the ability to civilly debate almost anything and I blame technology for this. They can sit safely away and hammer anyone with anonymity and crude talk and there is no repercussion. They do it in their car too by driving without consideration for those around them. I've often wondered how long they would get away with what they do, if they were standing face to face with those they choose to slander, curse, or wish dead.

I can't change the world, but I can police myself and work on being kinder and more considerate. I can learn to accept that other drivers simply don't get it that their driving puts me and them in danger, but I may have to work extra hard on that one.


Anonymous said...

DDC: Great column in The Baytown Sun this morning, Bert. Lots of wisdom displayed. I'm praying for your commitment to be slower to react with anger. That is extremely hard and I pray that God will bless you with His sweet spirit during times of confrontation.

Anonymous said...

Melvin Roark: Another great article, thanks for sharing your insight with us on many subjects is what I really enjoy the most. All your topics are in alignment with my thinking, so that is

Anonymous said...

Steve Liles: I second that Melvin. I think Bert inserts ME in there sometimes. Not in making fun of someone, but things I say sometimes are a little bully. I'm working on that. Click2houston tonight 1/5 at 10PM is having a deal on how to relieve pain without medication. With clenched teeth, I will be watching that. Some of you may need that. I do.

Why I quit writing for the Baytown Sun

Announcement for anyone who reads my column each Thursday in the Baytown Sun: Effective immediately I have quit writing for this Left...